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Brand Nubian

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Biography

The Five Percent Nation of Islam was a popular inspiration for numerous thinking-man's rap groups during the early '90s, and Brand Nubian was arguably the finest of the more militant crop. Although they were strongly related to the Native Tongues posse in style and sound, they weren't technically members, and were less reserved about spotlighting their politics and religion. Their outspokenness led to controversy, on an even larger scale than similarly minded groups like the X-Clan or Poor Righteous Teachers, in part because Brand Nubian's sheer musicality made them so listenable regardless of what their messages were. The hoopla surrounding their aggressive Afrocentrism sometimes overshadowed the playful and positive sides of their work, as well as the undeniable virtuosity of lead MC Grand Puba's rhymes -- all showcased to best effect on their highly acclaimed debut, One for All. Brand Nubian was formed in 1989 in the New York suburb of New Rochelle. Grand Puba (born Maxwell Dixon) had previously recorded with a group called Masters of Ceremony, and was joined by Sadat X (born Derek Murphy, originally dubbed Derek X), Lord Jamar (born Lorenzo DeChalus), and DJ Alamo (Murphy's cousin). The group signed with Elektra and released their debut album, All for One, in 1990. Most reviews were glowing, but the stronger rhetoric on the album -- especially the track "Drop the Bomb" -- drew fire from some quarters, including some white Elektra employees reluctant to promote what they saw as reverse racism. Ultimately, the uproar didn't really hurt Brand Nubian's career, but neither did it produce a wider hit with pop or R&B audiences, despite the high regard in which the singles "All for One," "Slow Down," and "Wake Up" are held. A far more serious blow was Grand Puba's departure from the group in late 1991, owing to tensions that had arisen over his handling the lion's share of the rapping. Not only did Brand Nubian lose their clear focal point and chief producer, they also lost DJ Alamo, who elected to continue working with Puba. Puba released his solo debut, Reel to Reel, in 1992; meanwhile, Lord Jamar and Sadat X regrouped with DJ Sincere (born Terrence Perry) and issued In God We Trust in 1993. It sold fairly well, just missing the Top Ten on the R&B chart, and the single "Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down" was something of a hit, though it also drew fire for its anti-gay slurs. In Puba's absence, the pro-Islam rhetoric grew stronger, with more explicit support for the controversial Minister Louis Farrakhan. By the time of 1994's Everything Is Everything, they'd gotten downright dogmatic, and critics who'd previously defended the group now found them difficult to stomach, both lyrically and musically. In the wake of the icy reception afforded Everything Is Everything, the remaining members of Brand Nubian drifted apart. Sadat X reunited with Grand Puba for "Play It Cool," a track on the latter's second solo album; Sadat also released his solo debut, Wild Cowboys, in 1996, and subsequently guested on records by a new wave of underground hip-hoppers. Lord Jamar, meanwhile, moved into production, and also landed a recurring role on HBO's prison drama Oz. In 1998, with a new alternative rap movement gaining prominence, the original four members of Brand Nubian reunited for the Arista album Foundation, which received highly positive reviews. Grand Puba and Sadat X both subsequently returned to their solo careers, but they returned with Jamar and Alamo for 2004's Fire in the Hole. ~ Steve Huey
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   All for One
  3.   Slow Down
  4.   Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down
  5.   Love Me or Leave Me Alone
  6.   Allah U Akbar
  7.   Don't Let It Go to Your Head
  8.   Brand Nubian
  9.   Step to the Rear
  10.   Feels So Good
  11.   Wake Up
  12.   Dance to My Ministry
  13.   Girls, Girls, Girls featuring Alamo
  14.   A Child Is Born
  15.   Keep It Bubblin'
  16.   Who Can Get Busy Like This Man...
  17.   U for Me
  18.   The Travel Jam
  19.   Step into da Cipher
  20.   Return of the Dread
  21.   I'm Black and I'm Proud
  22.   Grand Puba, Positive and L.G.
  23.   Foundation
  24.   Brand Nubian Rock the Set
  25.   Pass the Gat
  26.   Here We Go
  27.   Nubian Jam
  28.   Ain't No Mystery
  29.   The Plan Mushroom
  30.   The Future
  31.   Supreme Mathematics
  32.   Revolution
  33.   Get That Money
  34.   Get Crackin'
  35.   Dopestep
  36.   Bounce by Kid Capri
  37.   Go Hard featuring Alamo
  38.   Enjoy Yourself featuring Alamo
  39.   Right Here featuring Alamo
  40.   I Wanna Hear It featuring Alamo
  41.   Rockin' It
  42.   Brand Nu Hustle featuring Alamo
  43.   Time's Runnin' Out featuring Alamo
  44.   Scientists of Sound featuring Alamo
  45.   One Time featuring Alamo
  46.   Intro
  47.   Play It Cool
  48.   Like That
  49.   Rockin' It
  50.   Word Is Bond
  51.   What the Fuck
  52.   Weed vs. Weaves (Interlude)
  53.   Too Late
  54.   The Return
  55.   The Ghetto (Interlude)
  56.   The Beat Change
  57.   Sweatin Bullets
  58.   Straight off da Head
  59.   Straight Outta Now Rule
  60.   Steal Ya 'Ho
  61.   Soldier's Story
  62.   Sincerely
  63.   Shinin' Star
  64.   Ragtime
  65.   Probable Cause
  66.   Migraine (Interlude)
  67.   Meaning of the 5%
  68.   Maybe One Day by Common
  69.   Love vs. Hate
  70.   Lookin' at God (Interlude)
  71.   Lick Dem Muthaphuckas
  72.   Let's Dance
  73.   Just Don't Learn
  74.   Hold On
  75.   Gang Bang
  76.   Drop the Bomb
  77.   Down for the Real
  78.   Claimin' I'm a Criminal
  79.   Black on Black Crime (Interlude)
  80.   Alladat
  81.   Allah and Justice
  82.   Another Day in the Beast (Thoughts From a Criminal)
  83.   Back up Off the Wall by Loon
  84.   Black Star Line
  85.   Once Again featuring Alamo
  86.   To the Right
  87.   Somebody Told a Lie featuring Alamo
  88.   Concerto in X Minor
  89.   Corners
  90.   Dedication
  91.   How Long?
  92.   Try to Do Me
  93.   The Godz...
  94.   Seen Enough featuring Alamo
  95.   Black and Blue
  96.   A Child Is Born featuring Alamo
  97.   Steady Bootleggin'
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